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R.I. NEWS IN BRIEF

Police investigate Providence’s 15th homicide of the year

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Providence police are investigating the city’s 15th homicide of the year.

A man was shot on Gallup Street at around 11:45 p.m. Thursday, Lt. Carlos Sical told WPRI-TV.

Friends took the victim to Rhode Island Hospital before officers arrived on the scene, and the victim died there.

The victim’s name was not released but police say he is in his 20s.

The investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been announced.

Police are expected to release more information on the shooting on Friday.

Judicial nominators send 3 Superior Court picks to governor

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A panel that nominates judges in Rhode Island has submitted its three picks for state Superior Court to Gov. Gina Raimondo.

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The three candidates submitted Wednesday are R. David Cruise, Raimondo’s former legislative director; Superior Court Magistrate Richard Raspallo; and R. Bart Totten, of Adler Pollock & Sheehan, the Providence Journal reported.

The Rhode Island Judicial Nominating Commission deliberated on choosing a candidate that could help maintain public faith in the courts. Several members stressed the importance of selecting a candidate that reflects the diversity of the state.

The nominee would replace Superior Court Judge Bennett Gallo, who retired in February. The position is a lifetime post with a $170,545 annual base salary.

Of the three submissions, Raspallo received the most support with nine votes in his favor, followed by Cruise with seven and Totten with six. The commission did not disclose how many votes the other 10 candidates received.

Other candidates included Maria F. Deaton, a former state prosecutor now with Lynch & Pine; Robert J. Durant Jr., of Locke Lord; Pawtucket lawyer Monica Horan; Kathleen M. Kelly, chief legal counsel for the Department of Corrections; and former prosecutor Emily A. Maranjian, now counsel for the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner.

Cases rise as state performs millionth coronavirus test

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Rhode Island Department of Health on Thursday reported 398 new confirmed coronavirus cases the previous day and four more deaths associated with COVID-19, the disease it causes.

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The state also added 73 new confirmed cases to previous days counts for a total of 471 new cases.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in the state over the past two weeks went from almost 147 on Oct. 7 to nearly 280 on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins statistics.

The new fatalities bring the state’s death toll from the disease to 1,173.

There were 140 patients with coronavirus in the state’s hospitals on Tuesday, the most recent date for which information was available, up from 138 the previous day. Thirteen were in intensive care.

Rhode Island has now performed 1 million COVID-19 tests, but state health officials say that’s not enough.

With a recent surge in new cases, the state Department of Health on Thursday urged residents to get tested whenever they are experiencing symptoms and get tested regularly, if eligible, even if asymptomatic.

“While Rhode Island’s COVID-19 numbers are not moving in the right direction, we absolutely have the power to change our trajectory,” department Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said in a statement, calling testing critical.

She added: “By getting tested, you are helping to keep the people around you safe by limiting the spread of infection, and you are helping the entire state’s fight against COVID-19.”

To date, Rhode Island has run 1,015,720 tests, with more than 408,000 unique people tested, the department said. Nearly 29,600 cases have been confirmed.

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RI Supreme Court upholds judge’s decision not to step aside

PROVIDENCE (AP) — A Rhode Island Supreme Court has upheld a judge’s refusal to step down from presiding over a case involving two purported members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

The state Supreme Court declined to intervene Friday against Superior Court Judge Kristin Rodgers' rulings in the case against Joseph Lancia and Lance Imor, the Providence Journal reported.

Lancia was arrested in June 2019 after an investigation into reports of shots fired and faces charges related to attempting to kill a former club prospect. Lancia allegedly fired a shot at Richard Starnino as he drove past the Hells Angels clubhouse, striking the car, according to authorities.

A grand jury indicted Lancia for assault with intent to murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm while committing a crime of violence and other charges, according to state police.

A grand jury indicted Imor for possession of methamphetamine, compounding and concealing a felony, misprision of a felony and other charges.

Lancia’s lawyer has argued that Rodgers' marriage to Little Compton Police Chief Scott Raynes, formerly of the state police for 24 years, could appear improper or biased.

Rodgers concluded twice that Lancia and Imor have failed to prove she had a personal bias that would sway her judgment.

“Chief Raynes' past employment with the State Police, ending over one year before the events leading to the criminal charges in this indictment, has no connection, real or reasonably perceptible, to the conduct of this trial or the pretrial proceedings that would create the appearance of impropriety,” Rodgers wrote. “Thus, there is no grounds for this disqualification based upon either actual bias or the appearance of impropriety.”

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Washington Trust’s 3Q earnings are better than expected

WESTERLY, R.I. (AP) -- Washington Trust Bancorp Inc. (WASH) on Monday reported third-quarter net income of $18.3 million.

The Westerly, Rhode Island-based bank said it had earnings of $1.06 per share.

The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.03 per share.

The holding company for The Washington Trust Co. posted revenue of $66.3 million in the period. Its revenue net of interest expense was $57.1 million, which also beat Street forecasts.

Washington Trust shares have dropped 39% since the beginning of the year. In the final minutes of trading on Monday, shares hit $33.04, a decrease of 32% in the last 12 months.

Man serving 660-year sentence denied compassionate release

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island man serving a 660-year prison sentence for laundering millions of dollars for a Colombian drug cartel was denied compassionate release on Monday by a federal judge who said he had failed to show he was at an increased risk of severe complications from the coronavirus.

U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lisi found that Stephen Saccoccia had not demonstrated “extraordinary and compelling” circumstances that required he be freed, The Providence Journal reported.

Saccoccia, 62, a former Cranston precious metals dealer, argued for release because he is a nonviolent offender and has several medical conditions.

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Saccoccia is being held at Coleman federal prison in Florida, which his attorney called a “hotbed” of COVID-19 cases.

“It equates to a life sentence for Mr. Saccoccia and with the COVID risk, we can only hope it is not a death sentence for him,” attorney Lisa Holley said.

Federal prosecutors in their opposition to Saccoccia’s release said he failed to show the existence of any medical condition that would place him at a heightened risk. They also cited a prison disciplinary record that includes bribing an officer for tobacco, possessing wine in his cell, and abusing phone privileges.

Saccoccia was convicted in 1993. His wife, Donna Saccoccia, was convicted and sentenced to serve 14 years in prison. She was released in 2004.

Providence unveils program to support small businesses

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The city of Providence is throwing a lifeline to small businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic with microgrants of up to $10,000, officials said Monday.

The microenterprise grant program will support more than 20 low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs and business owners, Mayor Jorge Elorza and Local Initiatives Support Corp. Rhode Island Executive Director Jeanne Cola said in a statement.

“Small businesses, especially microbusinesses, are the backbone of Providence’s economy,” Elorza said. “This program will provide much needed relief to our neighborhoods and ensure businesses have access to the resources and financial supports to ride out the current economic storm.”

The businesses, typically ineligible for funding through federal programs, will be able to use the grants for business expenses including rent, staffing, utilities, and retail location modifications.

Grant applications will be available online starting Oct. 29.